Less Is Lost (The Arthur Less Books #2) (Paperback)
October 2022 Indie Next List
“The sincerity, heart, and pitch perfect humor that made me love Less are stronger than ever in the sequel. A beautiful, entertaining, and life-affirming read that’ll leave you smiling and pondering how to make the most of your life.”
— David Vogel, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI
“Go get lost somewhere, it always does you good.”
For Arthur Less, life is going surprisingly well: he is a moderately accomplished novelist in a steady relationship with his partner, Freddy Pelu. But nothing lasts: the death of an old lover and a sudden financial crisis has Less running away from his problems yet again as he accepts a series of literary gigs that send him on a zigzagging adventure across the US.
Less roves across the “Mild Mild West,” through the South and to his mid-Atlantic birthplace, with an ever-changing posse of writerly characters and his trusty duo – a human-like black pug, Dolly, and a rusty camper van nicknamed Rosina. He grows a handlebar mustache, ditches his signature gray suit, and disguises himself in the bolero-and-cowboy-hat costume of a true “Unitedstatesian”... with varying levels of success, as he continues to be mistaken for either a Dutchman, the wrong writer, or, worst of all, a “bad gay.”
We cannot, however, escape ourselves—even across deserts, bayous, and coastlines. From his estranged father and strained relationship with Freddy, to the reckoning he experiences in confronting his privilege, Arthur Less must eventually face his personal demons. With all of the irrepressible wit and musicality that made Less a bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning, must-read breakout book, Less Is Lost is a profound and joyous novel about the enigma of life in America, the riddle of love, and the stories we tell along the way.
Andrew Sean Greer is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of six works of fiction, including the bestsellers The Confessions of Max Tivoli and Less. Greer has taught at a number of universities, including the Iowa Writers Workshop, been a TODAY show pick, a New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellow, a judge for the National Book Award, and a winner of the California Book Award and the New York Public Library Young Lions Award. He is the recipient of a NEA grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He lives in San Francisco.
"Does Andrew Greer think of himself as a comic novelist? Does a giraffe think of itself as a giraffe? Probably it doesn’t matter. This book, though, is wildly, painfully, funny. It sometimes hurts to read it."—David Sedaris, author of Happy-Go-Lucky
"It is a deep pleasure to return to the adventures of Arthur Less and his beloved Freddy. Greer is a brilliant storyteller as always, and the joyfulness of this book is a balm. I loved reading it.”—Madeline Miller, bestselling author of CIRCE
“What a joy to be reunited with the beloved, hapless, utterly delightful Arthur Less. With tenderness, wit and his incomparably lovely prose, Greer probes that most profound and mysterious of subjects: love.”—Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies
"Now we have the utterly delightful sequel to “Less,” “Less Is Lost” (Little, Brown), this time told from the perspective of Less’ partner (and emergency contact), Freddy Pelu...A road-trip novel with everyone’s favorite “Minor American Novelist” as its guinea pig, “Less Is Lost” tells a very contemporary story of security undone, the death of an old friend and lover, and a financial crisis that has Arthur Less accepting a variety of antic-packed literary invitations across the country. Of course, in the end, wherever you go, there you are. “Less Is Lost” is a novel that dares to ask the question, “How long can a gay man survive in a desert?” It is in the balance between hilarity and heart that this sequel proves itself as delightful as its predecessor."—Sloane Crosley, Departures
"Exquisite attention to rhythm, repetition, and timing, the bright sentences tossed up like juggling balls to be caught in dazzling rotation...We can’t presume to know how the American story, that insane and unprecedented jumble of genres, will end, but Less and Freddy’s story is another matter. No one’s private world is shielded from national storms, but often enough the sun does shine there. We need some novels to remind us of that, and this is one."—Alexandra Schwartz, New Yorker
"“Tenderhearted sequel...all narrated with a wit and wistfulness that call to mind the work of David Sedaris and John Updike. The key pleasure of this adventure tale is bouncing along to burnished prose that never takes itself too seriously."—Vogue, "Best Books of Fall"
“Andrew Sean Greer’s new novel performs an astonishing magic trick: It makes you forget the state of the world—or, more specifically, America. . . . Greer can find the absurd in everything. . . . Less Is Lost is a love story, but it’s also about how we make art—which is to say, how we make meaning: of ourselves, each other, our lives. . . . Greer pays attention. And if it’s painful for him, as it is for Less, he also transmutes it into something that may survive the next 700 years: 'the restorative tonic of a funny tale.' In times like these, that feels like a gift.”—Katie Gutierrez, Oprah Daily
“Like that earlier novel, which was lauded for its musical prose, Less Is Lost is affecting and funny — so hysterical at times you may find yourself laughing aloud.”—Anita Snow, Associated Press
"The followup to Greer's Pulitzer-winning smash hit, Less, finds his hilarious protagonist, novelist Arthur Less, going on a roadtrip across the United States—well, not so much "across" as down the west coast and then through the south and then up the east coast again. Along the way Less meets a litany of wonderful characters, experiences a fair amount of personal growth, and in general will have even the most serious of readers laughing out loud as they quickly turn the pages of this thoroughly delightful novel. A sequel that very well might be better than the first book, which itself was an incredible success, Less Is Lost is, simply put, a joy to read."—The Today Show
"Less is back for more in this beguiling sequel, bursting with just as much absurdity, heartache, and laugh-out-loud joy as its predecessor. Dogged by financial crisis and the death of his former lover, Less sets out across the American landscape with nothing but a rusty camper van, a somber pug, and a zigzagging itinerary of literary gigs. Our reluctant hero blunders his way into a cascade of disasters, but the more lost Less gets, the closer he is to being found. Rambunctious and life-affirming, Less is Lost is a winsome reminder of all that fiction can do and be. As Greer writes of novelists, “Are we not that fraction of old magic that remains?”—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire
"Andrew Sean Greer’s Less follow-up is funny, sad and even more unforgettable...a touching, hilarious narrative...Poignant, smart and funny, the mix of elements Greer brings to the table here makes this an outstanding book that’s part road trip, part love story and part keen observation of contemporary America...Greer is a very talented storyteller, and there are shining lines in Less is Lost that dip their toes in poetry...Less Is Lost is perfectly balanced; sad and joyful, honest and hilarious, wonderfully strange and very real. Greer is a great chronicler of our times, and his vision of America celebrates the best of it while also showing its dark side, and that makes this novel required reading."—Gabino Iglesias, San Francisco Chronicle
"2018 Pulitzer Prize winner Less is one of the most charming books I’ve ever read. I find myself returning to it again and again when I want a feel-good read, and it's like an instant pick-me-up. Less Is Lost, the sequel, manages to have just as much heart as its predecessor, which feels more necessary now than ever. . . . If you’re looking for a cozy read this fall that will have you laughing and experiencing renewed gratitude for life, you can’t go wrong spending more time with this lovable character.” —David Vogel, Buzzfeed, "Best Books of the Fall"
"Arthur Less’ losses are legion: his former lover, his current partner, his house, his self-confidence. So – in this follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Less – he takes to the road in a rented van (with a borrowed pug) to make some money and figure out if he still loves who (and what) he thinks he loves. He’s accused of being a 'bad gay' and wonders if he really might be guilty as charged. Less is a hapless Walloon: a possibly European man of letters and privilege who stumbles his way out of impending tragedies, through mounting humiliations, and into surprising successes. Yet his inability to recognize his luck as luck is why we love Less more and more."—Jason DeRose, NPR (" Best Books of the Year")
“The clever story that unfolds is a hilarious and touching take on modern life in America, making Less Is Lost a cathartic book for anyone who’s ever questioned their path— in other words, all of us.”—Real Simple
“Thick with matters of love, family and home...Greer’s task is to ground the absurdity in tenderheartedness without being cute or cloying...he masters both — the embarrassing moment but also the gentle grace note.” —Mark Athitakis, Los Angeles Times
“What more can you do, when your Less wins a surprise Pulitzer Prize? Coming off the unexpected win for his bittersweet 2017 coming-of-middle-age smash, Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli) brings back that book's hapless, lovable hero Arthur Less — moderately accomplished novelist, "bad gay," man in the cerulean blue suit — for yet another fizzy existential road trip.”—Entertainment Weekly, Best Books of Fall
"I fell for the somewhat hapless, super awkward, but rather relatable Arthur Less in Andrew Sean Greer's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2017 novel Less during a jaunt around Europe, not unlike the protagonist. This fall, Less entered my life once again with Greer's sequel Less is Lost. The novel—at times laugh-out-loud funny, deeply heart warming, and an apt portrayal of the current state of America—sees Less once again on a journey; this time on an unexpected road trip across the United States where he finds himself in unpredictable situation after unpredictable situation. From beginning to end, I found myself armchair traveling through Greer's metaphors and vivid-yet-quirky descriptions from California to New Mexico to Georgia. I was ultimately left with an optimistic view of humanity—and an itch to rent a camper van, grab my dog, and get lost."—Scott Bay, Conde Nast Traveler
"The spark that filled the original Less with such joy and relatable anxiety is here in abundance. It’s safe to say if you loved the first book, you’ll enjoy this one too. Greer has created a sequel that succeeds in doing what we all want from a sequel. The same but not the same. Different without being different. Going deeper without troubling the foundations. Less is Lost is, unsurprisingly, a sweet return to the arms of a lover who knows you better than you know yourself. It’s a joy to be back here again...I would happily keep reading Arthur Less’ escapades for years to come."—Chad Armstrong, The Queer Review
“There is no better guide across America than Arthur Less, the ‘bad gay’ whose engaging awkwardness and self-deprecation are tragically funny and hugely insightful. We should all be so lost.”—Bonnie Garmus, author of Lessons in Chemistry
“Excited to be reunited with our neurotic hero Arthur Less, I ripped through this sequel. It was a thrill to go on this odyssey with Less where even the most picayune comic encounters turn profound. Vulnerable and witty, Less is Lost is a joy.”—Cathy Park Hong, bestselling author of Minor Feelings
"Arthur Less is back for more. Readers met the gay, middle-aged, fictional novelist in Andrew Sean Greer’s novel Less, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018. Now, Less is channeling his emotions over his former partner’s death into a U.S. road trip, bouncing from literary gig to gig. Along the way, expect him to transform in surprising—and inevitably amusing—ways. Less Is Lost is a satisfying sequel about resilience and choosing love."—TIME Magazine
“Less Is Lost is a generous, funny, deeply insightful novel and I recommend it to readers without hesitation.”—Boston Globe
“ 2017's Less, one of the funniest and most heartwarming books of the decade, Andrew Sean Greer introduced readers to Arthur Less, a writer traveling the globe and encountering a few challenges along the way. Greer continues Less's story in his new novel, Less Is Lost, which promises even more comedy and heart.”
—Southern Living, Best Books of Fall
"If the first iteration of Less’s adventures saw him bumbling across Europe and Asia, [Less is Lost] finds him even more out of place, a stranger in his homeland. By turns deliriously funny and devastatingly heartbreaking, Greer’s sequel is an always-moving escapade through middle age."—Michelle Hart, Electric Lit
"The ending of Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Less, did not demand a sequel—it ended so perfectly—but lucky us, we’re getting one anyway. Beloved Arthur Less, once again fleeing his problems, accepts invitations to a bunch of literary events and heads out on the road. This time, he’s traveling throughout the United States. As he proved with Less, Greer excels at pinpointing the funniest parts of the writerly life, and we expect him to return to this winning comic realm."—Bookpage
"Just as his romantic life and career as a novelist start to make sense, a series of unfortunate events compels Arthur Less to accept writing assignments that send him, once again, away from home. As Less traverses the United States, he must face his past to find peace for himself in this hilarious but heartfelt follow-up to Greer’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Less."—Alta
"'Andrew Sean Greer's writing nails both the absurdity of the human condition and its wistful beauty. Arthur Less is an unforgettable literary creation and I was so happy to be back in his company as he continues his elegant muddle through life."—Elizabeth Day, author of Magpie
"Is Less Is Lost as good, as funny, as poignant as its predecessor? To which I would happily answer: Yes, at least!...There are extended comic passages...that I read aloud, laughing, to anyone I could waylay. But comedy also arises out of pain and Greer smoothly transitions into the profound...Greer should add even more to Less' saga and take him as far as he can go."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“Apt comparison is to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in that both [it and LESS IS LOST] are portraits of America from characters who consider themselves outsiders. The novel has one exquisite line after another. . . . Less Is Lost is more than just a gorgeously written sequel. It's also a perceptive observer's entertaining assessment of whether a breakup of the American nuptials is imminent.”—Shelf Awareness
"Technically accomplished, wildly entertaining...Like its predecessor, [Less Is Lost] is a feat of wit and brio, tougher than it looks...Greer's a master of the picaresque...Greer's wordplay is glorious.”—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Andrew Sean Greer follows up his Pulitzer Prize-winning Less with this story about the same character, Arthur Less, whose now-comfortable life falls into disarray—and whose next steps lead him on an eventful roadtrip (accompanied, much to our delight, by a black pug) that proves you can't outrun your problems, but you can make them fascinating on the page."—St. Louis Dispatch
"Another delightful road story...Greer packs in plenty of humor and some nicely poignant moments. Fans will eat this up."
"Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer: If you, as I did, loved the Pulitzer-Prize winning Less, then you’ll be excited to learn that Greer has penned a sequel about the lovable writer, Arthur Less. This time, Less is on a road trip in the States with a famous science fiction author and his black pug named Dolly. Hilarity ensues."—The Millions, "Most Anticipated"
"I remember devouring Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Less in a single afternoon, unable to pull myself away from its tender, lightly painful, and very, very funny portrayal of Arthur Less, a novelist on a world-wide tour, fleeing from heartbreak. Less Is Lost sees Arthur on another tour, this one across the US, and in flight from the death of an old lover and a financial crisis. I can’t wait to enter his world again."—LitHub
“By the end of his odyssey, Less is awake not only to the world but also to his emotional life, to what is meaningful, to the sweetness at the center of his baffled heart.”—Mark Haskell Smith, Alta
PRAISE FOR LESS:
"Less is the funniest, smartest and most humane novel I've read since Tom Rachman's 2010 debut, The Imperfectionists. . . . Greer writes sentences of arresting lyricism and beauty. His metaphors come at you like fireflies. . . . Andrew Sean Greer's Less is excellent company. It's no less than bedazzling, bewitching and be-wonderful."—Christopher Buckley, New York Times Book Review
"Greer is an exceptionally lovely writer, capable of mingling humor with sharp poignancy.... Brilliantly funny.... Greer's narration, so elegantly laced with wit, cradles the story of a man who loses everything: his lover, his suitcase, his beard, his dignity."—Ron Charles, Washington Post
"Greer's novel is philosophical, poignant, funny and wise, filled with unexpected turns....Although Greer is gifted and subtle in comic moments, he's just as adept at ruminating on the deeper stuff. His protagonist grapples with aging, loneliness, creativity, grief, self-pity and more."—San Francisco Chronicle
"I recommend it with my whole heart."
"Marvelously, unexpectedly, endearingly funny. A love story focused on the erroneous belief that the second half of life will pale in comparison to the first. Guess what? It won't!"—Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success
“Assured, comic storytelling at its finest.”
—Oprah Daily, Best Books of Fall